POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/11

The Tea Party Fades

Ezra Klein: “The Republican establishment is reasserting control. It’s purging some of the hucksters who’d taken the party’s reins — or at least the airtime — in recent years. It’s resisting much of the brinkmanship that marked the last Congress and trying to present a more fearsome, united front against counterproductive strategies favored by the right. All of the major 2016 presidential contenders have made the same political calculation: It’s better to build a reputation as one of the party’s adults than as one of its firebrands.”

“Just don’t call this process moderation. The Republican Party isn’t reinventing itself so much as reverting to its previous form. There’s little evidence of a rethinking of core Republican policy ideas.”

The Confessional Campaign

Mark Sanford’s (R) congressional bid “is equal parts political campaign and confessional tour,” Politico reports.

“The disgraced ex-South Carolina governor is back on the trail seeking forgiveness for the sins that caused his political career to collapse in spectacular fashion four years ago: The mysterious days-long disappearance, the lies about hiking the Appalachian Trail and the extramarital affair with an Argentine woman that splintered the Republican’s picture-perfect family and shattered his presidential aspirations.”

Said Sanford: “I’m not in any way unaware of how I’ve let you down. I’m not in any way unaware of my well-chronicled failings as a human being. But I am equally aware that God forgives people who are imperfect.”

Graham Threatens Hold on Nominations

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “threatened to block the confirmations of President Obama’s nominees for secretary of defense and head of the Central Intelligence Agency if the administration does not provide more information about its response to the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya,” the Washington Postreports.

“Graham said that he would not attempt to filibuster, but nodded yes when asked if he was willing to put holds on the nominees, which essentially means asking for the courtesy of notification before the Senate majority leader moves ahead on a vote.”

Republicans on the Sequester: Then and Now

The DNC is out with a new video.

See more…

Budget Cuts That Weren’t

“Late on the night of April 8, 2011, Washington’s leaders announced that they’d just done something extraordinary. They had agreed to cut the federal budget — and cut it big,” theWashington Post reports.

“Nearly two years later, however, these landmark budget cuts have fallen far short of their promises.”

“In some areas, they did bring significant cutbacks in federal spending. Grants for clean water dried up. Cities got less money for affordable housing. But the bill also turned out to be an epic kind of Washington illusion. It was stuffed with gimmicks that made the cuts seem far bigger — and the politicians far bolder — than they actually were.”

Obama Will Shift Back to the Economy

President Obama “will concentrate his State of the Union speech Tuesday on the economy, shifting the emphasis away from the broad social agenda of his second inaugural address to refocus attention on a set of problems that vexed his first term,” the Washington Postreports.

“Several senior administration officials involved in the speech say he will use his fourth State of the Union address to talk about jobs after the national unemployment rate ticked up last month. He will propose ways to make college more affordable to more people. And, the officials said, he will argue for the need to spend public money — on research, on roads, on education — to prepare Americans for a world where a warming climate, a nomadic labor force and new technology are shutting doors and opening new ones across the national economy.”

Byron York: “Now, apparently, Obama has noticed public opinion.”

Third Act for Gabby Giffords

New York Times: “Her career as a lawmaker is behind her, but so is her role as the fragile, slightly mysterious victim in the months after she was shot point-blank in a parking lot here just over two years ago. Now, she is the face and emotional dynamism behind a new advocacy group and a separate political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, dedicated to reducing gun violence. It is an effort, she said, that gives her ‘purpose.'”

Parallels Arise Between Bush and Obama on Security

New York Times: “Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of President George W. Bush finds himself cast as a present-day Mr. Bush, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country’s core values in the name of security.”

“The debate is not an exact parallel to those of the Bush era, and Mr. Obama can point to ways he has tried to exorcise what he sees as the excesses of the last administration. But in broad terms, the conversation generated by the confirmation hearing of John O. Brennan, his nominee for C.I.A. director, underscored the degree to which Mr. Obama has embraced some of Mr. Bush’s approach to counterterrorism, right down to a secret legal memo authorizing presidential action unfettered by outside forces.”

Bachmann Campaign Accused of Stealing Mailing List

“Eight months after Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential bid ground to a halt in Iowa, her campaign manager there signed a sworn affidavit, pointing his finger at another top staffer in a still-simmering dispute over the misuse of a contact list of home-school family names,”NBC News reports.

“The list was the at the center of a flap late in Bachmann’s presidential run, when a powerful Iowa home-school network called NICHE complained that its collection of contacts for thousands of home-school families had been mined by the campaign and used to expand its fundraising.”

Schwartz Eyes Run for Pennsylvania Governor

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) is seriously considering seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in Pennsylvania as her party tries to unseat incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in the 2014 election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“Democrats are seeing Corbett as vulnerable in light of his low approval ratings in recent statewide polls. Though state Treasurer Rob McCord and of other Democrats have dropped hints about entering the race, the only one to toss his hat in the ring to date is John Hanger, the former state environmental secretary.”

Leave Chris Christie Alone

Michelle Cottle says too much is being made of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) weight.

“More to the point, why is Christie’s fatness exponentially more problematic than, say, John Boehner’s manic chain-smoking or crazy tanning fetish? And what about some of the borderline alcoholics we’ve watched swan about the halls of the Capitol over the years? Or, if we really want to fret over an impaired ability to govern, what about the members of Congress who cling to office until they are so senile they can barely recognize their own wives? (Lighthearted case in point: a now deceased senator once tried to compel a former colleague of mine to escort him to the bathroom because the lawmaker mistook the young reporter for his aide.) I’ve been in Washington going on 17 years, during which time I’ve dealt with more than one lawmaker unnervingly past his prime.”

Blizzard Could Leave GOP Without Candidate

The blizzard that struck New England has some Massachusetts Republicans concerned that the storm “could jeopardize the ability of state Rep. Dan Winslow and other GOP candidates to qualify for the ballot in the special election to replace Secretary of State John Kerry,” National Journal reports.

“Candidates for the special election must submit 10,000 certified signatures by Feb. 27 to qualify for the April 30 primary. With Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick (D) declaring a state of emergency Friday afternoon and banning cars from driving on the roads, Senate contenders are forced to put a hold on signature collecting until the storm passes.”

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